I was all ready to proudly retell the story of my first 10K. Of how the training had paid off. Of how I was able to run more of it than I thought I could. Of how my time would be better than I thought I would do.
But I can't.
None of that happened.
It was probably one of the worst and most painful experiences of my entire life.
Let's start at the beginning.
I had been training for several weeks. Running several times a week, but with the drastic increase in temperatures in the last couple of weeks, I hadn't been able to run the long runs I had planned. Knowing this, I had accepted just being happy finishing the 10K. If I could run the first 5K of it, I would call it a win.
Morning of the race, I was a ball of nerves. Usually my mom runs races with me, but this was my first time solo. And at my longest distance ever. I was almost giddy with anticipation.
My number was 259. I kept joking that as long as I was #259 or better in my age group, I would call it a win.
The first two miles were almost easy, given that it was all uphill. I ran along side a woman who works at the same company as me, but we've never really interacted before. At mile 2, she either picked up her pace or I got slower and there gradually became a gap between us.
I managed to run all the way to the turn around point, Mile 3.1, and finally took a walk break. My left knee was starting to bug me, but it didn't really hurt. It just felt like it was annoyed to be running, if that made any sense. The kind of pain you just push through and eventually it stops bugging you. You can at least ignore it.
At about the same time, my stomach started to bug me, too. I would run for a bit, but the sinking feeling that my stomach was becoming angry and would make a mess of me if I didn't take a break. So, I would alternate running until my stomach spoke up and walk until it calmed down. I even pushed through and ran the majority of Mile 4.
As soon as I stepped across the line for Mile 5, I stopped for a walk break and knew I was in trouble. My knee was no longer just an annoyance, it really f'in hurt. A lot. I walked for a bit, hoping that was all it needed.
After a couple of minutes, I started to run again. And by started, I mean I took one step and thought my leg was going to give out under me. My left knee, which up until that point had never, ever given me any trouble, was now basically useless.
This is where I started to panic. What are you supposed to do at that point? I was roughly a mile from the finish line and I could barely walk. I did, I kept slowly walking, but every step was pure agony and getting worse with each one.
Five minutes later and probably 100 feet, I texted Dan. No response.
Another ten minutes and probably another 100 feet, I called him. I told him I blew my knee out. He said, "Ok." "OK?!?!?" I shouted back and just hung up. He wanted me to tell him what to do. I wanted him to step up and save me because I was on the side of a major road, in pain, getting passed by progressively slower walkers. No sidewalks or side streets to stop on. My limp had gotten so bad I had to stop walking every couple of dozen steps to rub it and people kept asking me if I was OK. If I needed them to send help when they got to the finish line. I greatly considered it, but my pride kept me limping along.
The good runners were now coming back passed me, burning off their extra energy because 6.2 miles wasn't enough for them. A friend of my mom's stopped to encourage me. It took all I had not to burst into tears.
I was about a half mile from the finish line. Over the last big hill came my knight in shining yellow T-shirt. Dan had come walking along the course to find me. By the time he reached me, I was a big, sobbing mess. A full blown panic attack. I didn't want to have to go back to the finish line, with all the runners who actually have functioning knees and decent times. I tried to rip my number off so no one would know that I was a big, fat failure. We could hobble back to the car and pretend it never happened.
Unfortunately and fortunately, my mom's friend found me again. She convinced me to keep going. To just cross the line. For that last quarter mile, the three of us slowly hobbled toward the finish line.
Dan walked me across it. The timer displayed "1:37". I don't know my official time. I don't know how I placed. I refuse to look. I don't need to, it'll just make me sad. I set the bar low at finishing the race and, technically, that's what I did.
The big question now is how this will affect my training. This race was just supposed to be a stepping stone to the race I really want to run in September. An eight mile run, all on pavement. Even though it's four months away, how can I even attempt it? It doesn't seem like a realistic goal anymore, at least not this year.
As I lie on the sofa, icing my knee, I can't imagine it happening, but who knows? If I have to put it off for another year, it's not the end of the world. And at least I got to cross one goal off my resolutions list...